Letters from our readers
Report from Kenya
Much greetings from us here in Kenya. We read In Transition magazine, which was later changed to The Journal. The Journal contains news and information that you could not get from the organizations that pledge to care for the brethren.
[In Transition was published from May 1995 through January 1997. The Journal, with some of the same staff members but not connected otherwise with In Transition, has published from February 1997 to the present.]
The Journal helped us grow spiritually and dispel some great myths which were propagated to many. We are a small independent church of about 35 adults and children and have been doing fine for one year and over.
We have not read The Journal for the whole of 1999 as we have been very busy organizing ourselves. Now we feel we have reached a point where we need to subscribe to The Journal again. Are you still publishing? We are certainly behind in the news.
Please send us details of how we can subscribe again. In future we could also tell our story of the independent church here in Kenya and let our brothers and sisters know that we are here. It would be interesting to hear about the lessons we have learned here in Kenya.
Stephen Karuga Kariuki
Secretary, Sabbatarian Church of God
The Journal sent Mr. Kariuki subscription information and invited him to report on news of the Sabbatarian Church of God.
There are many religions. Most of them are religions of Sunday-keepers, and, naturally, they promote the Sunday-keeping viewpoint. We are Sabbath-keepers and intend to remain Sabbath-keepers.
We presume that The Journal is a newspaper by and for Sabbath-keepers. Yet I see in the "Notes and Quotes" section of the Jan. 31 issue a plug for a Worldwide Church of God magazine, Journey: Meeting Life's Challenges.
I object to this promotion on the grounds that the Worldwide Church of God is no longer a representative of or supportive of the seventh-day Sabbath. My opinion is that any reporting on the WCG should be limited to how it affects us as Sabbath-keepers and exposing that church's attempts to destroy the faith of God's saints.
The articles on the Church of God (Seventh Day) in the same issue [page 1] were excellent, and they have alerted us to a potential problem similar to what happened to the WCG. At this time I don't think there is enough information to make a judgment.
I would like clarification of the intent of The Journal's editorial policy on the matter of reporting news from the WCG.
Fort Dodge, Iowa
The Journal fully supports law and grace. On the law side, it supports the keeping of all 10 of the Commandments, including the Sabbath. The Journal is not antinomian.
However, this newspaper intends to continue reporting news of the Worldwide Church of God. It is news when the WCG starts another magazine because apparently not enough people are willing to pay for The Plain Truth.
Articles about publications in The Journal include the addresses of those publications because some of our readers--even though loyal Sabbath-keepers--may wish to subscribe.
To leave out some addresses would imply that The Journal agrees with everything said or published by groups or individuals whose addresses are given, but that is not necessarily the case.
Every issue of The Journal includes an announcement that views stated in any article, letter or other feature are those of the writers or sources quoted by the writers and should not be viewed as the official position of any group or organization, nor do they necessarily reflect the views of anyone on the staff of The Journal.
Something old, something new
Regarding Mike Baran's letter ["Old Covenant Not Obsolete," Jan. 31, page 5]: I don't think that either the people of God nor all of the ministry has ever fully understood that the Old Covenant was not the problem. The problem was the people who could not keep it (Jeremiah 31:32).
God is not like a man who needs to repent and change his part. It is our part that has to be changed because we have broken the covenant that we all agreed to at conversion See Exodus 19:7; we all must come to this point.
But, because of the law of sin and death "in our members" (Romans 7:23) and that "the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7), we must have that law written in our hearts (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16) in order to become like Christ (Romans 10:4) and to "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
This is what makes the "image" of Christ in us. We become able, then, to keep the "spirit of the law" (which refers to keeping it as magnified by Christ) because Christ in us does His "works" (John 15:5; Isaiah 26:12; 29:23).
We have to come to a point of unconditional surrender, just as the disciples did in Acts 2:44-46; 4:32-37. The churches have not come to this point of unity because the Holy Spirit, which unifies, is not there. Our natures have to be changed in order to keep that covenant because we cannot do it of ourselves. We have to recognize our own inadequacies and lean on Christ, which is what the Bride does (Song of Solomon 8:5).
This attracts Him to her because she yields everything to Him and becomes His friend (Song of Solomon 5:16), like Abraham. He then writes Himself in her heart (the law in Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16 is the entire Word: Christ).
Notice--in John 10:34--Christ refers to a scripture in the Psalms as part of the law because all of Scripture is the law that is written as testimony into the fleshy tables of our hearts and makes the image or likeness of Christ (the living Word) in us.
God does not have to change (that is, redo His covenant). We do!
P.S.: A worthwhile study on this subject is John Ritenbaugh's taped series, "The Law and Grace," which I understand is free. His address is Church of the Great God, P.O. Box 471846, Charlotte, N.C. 28247, U.S.A. This is a 29-tape series but well worth the effort.
Sulphur Springs, Texas
Since The Journal has published a number of articles and letters regarding the Y2K problem, I thought you might be interested in reading the enlightening article at www.comlinks.com/mag/psimh.htm.
Glen Ridge, N.J.
Last year I published an article [on the Internet] titled "Y2K: The Real Titanic Story! America Will Go Down!"
Y2K problems have been reported in the press and gone largely unpublicized, but I thought the effects of the Y2K programming flaw would be far, far more dramatic than they have proven to be thus far. Personally I am relieved. I certainly do not want to see our nation suffer, although it is inevitable.
I do apologize for my irresponsible journalism and for alarming any of you unnecessarily. I have resolved that in the future I will not make dogmatic statements such as I did with Y2K unless I have ample proof that those statements are true.
Las Vegas, Nev.
Disappointed Y2K silence
Regarding "Y2K: The Day the Earth Stood Firm," Jan. 31 issue: Kudos to Gary Fakhoury for his candid admission that we may have been wrong about Y2K. For the last year or so there has been no shortage of well-intended articles and sermons warning us of the possible dire consequences of this man-made phenomenon. Even those who would not normally venture into the prophecy realm jumped all over this one. Whatever the level of severity, this event was certain to be the beginning of the end.
One could get the sense that many of us were secretly hoping for the big crash to occur. While we remained in our well-stocked places of safety, we could watch as Y2K touched off the great tribulation on an unsuspecting and scoffing world.
But, as everyone can see (except those who still have not come out of their bunkers), it didn't happen. It wasn't even a blip on our prophetic radar screens. So now, as we quietly eat our tuna fish and beans, we just watch and wait and look forward to the next catastrophe.
It was right that we were warned of the real potential problems that Y2K might have caused. It was wise and prudent to have prepared to a reasonable extent. But now that this too has passed, and with such overwhelming innocuousness, I wonder if there is not just a little disappointment among some: disappointment that this present evil world just blithely goes on without even a shudder, disappointment that our end-time scenarios could be so far off base.
Maybe that's why there is so much silence coming from the podium and PC about the failed predictions. I'm glad to see Mr. Fakhoury boldly address the issue and offer some positive suggestions as to what we can do from here.
There is tremendous opportunity here for self-examination. As 2000 unfolds before our eyes, we should discuss how we may want to view these obvious (or maybe not so obvious) last days. We should take our lives off hold and work while it is still day. We should make a distinction between living in the end time and living for the end time.
Significance in numbers
News item: "Fox & Associates Partners, Inc., in conjunction with the Grubb & Ellis Co. of Dallas, has been selected by the Worldwide Church of God to auction the approximately 2,300-acre Ambassador University property near Big Sandy, Texas. The property, consisting of the beautiful Ambassador University campus, two lakes, a golf course, 22 lake-front residences, a radio station, airstrip, hangar, mechanical and woodworking shops and prime farm and timberland, will be auctioned April 4, starting at noon on the Ambassador University campus."
Note that April 4 (day 26,782) is the day Eugene Faustlich of the Chronological History Research Institute reckons is the end of the 6,000 years God gave mankind. April 12 is the estimated time of the rise of the two witnesses. April 20 is the Nisan 15 estimated time of the woman flying to her place in the wilderness. See "Where Are We In Prophecy Now?," http://members.xoom.com/hwa_elijah.
Fish Hoek, South Africa
I appreciate your using my letter ["The Goodness of Men," Jan. 31, page 5], but one error, which perhaps I made, is the date of baptism. It was in August 1969, not 1989.
Via the Internet
Hello from Vietnam
I hope all of you are doing well. I am healthy and busy here in Ho Chi Minh City. I've found a creative way of rounding up a few bucks to help our kids here in Vietnam [see "Church of God Member Begins Effort to Help Vietnam Orphans," Oct. 25, 1999]. It's a win-win situation.
An E-mail message advertising an online banking service came to me a few weeks ago and I let it sit, considering it to be spam (junk mail). To make this short, I finally signed up for an account, and the company really does give you $20 to start your account and pays 4 percent interest. There are other interesting benefits also.
So if you are at all interested, we (at SEACAP, the Southeast Asian Children's Assistance Project) will receive $10 for everyone who signs up. This can be used for SEACAP work over here. Ten bucks can go a long way, and it's free money!
So give it some thought. Even if you open the account and do nothing, it's still $20 gaining 4 percent interest for a few minutes of time.
If you want to go ahead with it, please go to www.x.com/new_account.asp?Referreremail@example.com.
I'm still not very good at rounding up money for SEACAP, but I thought this would be something that would be good for all of us. Please pass it on to a friend or two. Hey, 20 bucks is 20 bucks.
I want to thank you and the staff for the nice statements you wrote about our director and friend, Lon Lacey ["A COG Ministry Founder Lon Lacey Dies," Jan. 31]. We have been greatly shocked and grieved about his death, and it has been a rude awakening just how fragile life on this earth really is.
It's more proof that we all have to have a dedicated and personal walk with God the Father and Jesus Christ. We must be able to stand on our own feet and not waver when a dedicated leader is taken.
Lon did a great job in teaching us all how important that "personal walk" is and to always prove all things. Therefore our group, which includes the "Outreach Brethren," are going forward to carry out the mission we feel God would have us reach for.
The workers may have shifted somewhat, but the mission is the same, and that is the restoration of the truth once delivered.
A Church of God Ministry is much on the ball, and all of us are encouraged in spite of the sadness of our loss.
Flora E. Warnock-Ferguson
Letter Answering and Mailing Dept.
In this much troubled world
That we live in today,
It seems there are many
Who have quite lost their way;
They stumble through life
Like a thief in the night,
Always searching for something
But in need of a light.
And there is a Light
For all who have need
Who will brighten their way
If His word they will heed.
For in the land of Judea
On a crisp autumn night,
To a virgin was born
A son, now known as the Light.
This Light was sent
To us from above
By our Father in heaven
Because of His love;
And this is a Light
That forever will shine,
A Light that will brighten
Your way and mine.
If we follow that Light
We need not have fear
Of what lies before us,
For there is help always near.
But we need to love God
With all of our might
And to give Him our thanks
For sending that Light.
So now as we travel
Down the pathway of life
We are apt to encounter
Much turmoil and strife
And may get discouraged
Because of our plight,
But can always be strengthened
If we seek out that Light.
We are sure to face trials,
Have many burdens to bear,
Perhaps even at times
Be filled with despair,
And may find it difficult
To do what is right;
It is then that we need
To turn to that Light.
We may also suffer
With heartaches and pain,
And with all of our problems
Find it hard not to complain;
There will be many temptations
Against which we must fight,
But we can prevail
With the help of the Light.
With so many obstacles
Always blocking the way,
And clouds of adversity
Keeping the skies often gray,
We may become disheartened,
But should never lose sight
Of the goal of salvation
And keep our eyes on the Light.
For this Light is eternal
And will give us new life
When we are through with this world,
Filled with conflict and strife.
And we can be sure
Of a future always bright,
If we follow the example
Of that life-giving Light.
Russell R. Decker
Probably pining for the field
I don't claim to be a prophet, but common sense and life experiences of a few years inspired me to say this to someone a while ago: The churches will split and divide and subdivide down to the lowest common denominator, which is the local congregation, or, for some people, themselves!
Pandora is out of the box. You can't put it back in. We have all heard people say: "I don't agree with this, so I'm leaving. I've got as much right to run a church as you." So, when you try to bring in your own particular brand of dictatorial rule, some of the brethren say: "The same to you!"
Dictatorial rule has had its day, gentlemen. You must treat brothers like brothers.
Oh, I know it is still clinging with a rigor mortislike grip in some areas, but it is effectively dead. Like in Monty Python's parrot sketch, the parrot is dead; the parrot is an ex-parrot.
What, then, is the way forward? Love is the way forward. Love is tolerance: of each other's differences of opinions and different personalities.
Ann E. Ellis
How ironic that people standing knee deep in ashes and their eyes full of smoke still point their fingers at the physical world and say: Your world is going to burn to the ground!
How ironic that Norman Edwards would make the statement in the Nov. 30, 1999, edition of The Journal, in his essay on page 17 ["To Protect Your Crown, Hold Fast! But Hold Fast To What?"]: "To anyone considering these facts it should be clear: Unless Christ returns in the next 15 years, the Church of God groups as we know them will be all but gone."
Considering this statement in light of Matthew 24:15, 22 and 24, where are these scriptures being fulfilled?
In regards to Mr. Edwards' question "How do our groups look to others?" and his subsequent comments, one would have to conclude that Mr. Edwards and "our groups," to which he refers, look chaotic and confused. But God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).
The belief, by some, that "there are Christians in other churches" is the abomination that has made us (who are the church, the most important people to God at this time and season) desolate, dazed and confused.
What must we do? Repent of the covetousness that has separated and divided us. The church has pointed the finger at the world as the recipients of God's judgment and wrath. You, the church as a whole, should know what I am talking about. If you don't, then lie back down and go back to sleep.
Our fathers Armstrong and Tkach are dead, and we bear their iniquities (Lamentations 5:7). The whole book of Lamentations fits the church well. We, the church, have laid claim to the Bible except for the indictments for major sins and rebukes, which we have so conveniently put off on the world: the world that we were called out of and the one that God says He is not judging now.
We are called to give the world hope, not be its judge and jury.
Who have we always taught is being judged now? The world doesn't have a clue as to what is going on in God's plan and purpose. But we, the church, can and should if God is truly our heavenly Father.
I have been as guilty as anyone else, but I refuse any longer to neglect so great a salvation by continuing to believe and help promote lies and falsehoods.
If doing a work of preaching the "gospel," good news, causes separation and division and inspires the stiff-arming of others, competition and strife, spiritual bloodletting, violence and warfare, then shouldn't we come to the realistic conclusion that this is not the time and season to do such a work?
If we come to realize this, then we can't help but realize that we, the church, are in trouble, Jacob's trouble. It is time to love our enemies.
Who will stand in the gap and defend the church, not accepting and condoning division? Who is willing to give up the self for the good of all? Will we forfeit the spiritual to save the physical? I am talking to the church, not churches.
I am offended by the proud who act like nothing ever happened. I am offended by the whiners, scoffers and doubtful who act like they were never asked to count the cost and were never told of the difficulty that lay ahead.
I am offended by those who think they can receive the goods without paying the price. I am offended by those who think they must fellowship with someone physical or a physical group and in the process compromise their own conscience in the truth.
I am offended that many are at ease and think it is business as usual and refuse after so long a time to see that our beloved Israel, the church, has been made desolate and is under siege by Satan and his allies.
I am offended by those who refuse to look at and examine the evidence of Scripture but continue to assume and speculate about that which they do not have evidence or assurance of.
I am offended by those who think and act like God wasn't with us in the past but is now looking down favorably on all of the division, separation and confusion.
I am offended by those who have lived up to their philosophy that God is not a family.
To stand for all of God's called and not pick and choose sides is a lonely position to hold. Peace has got to start with each of us.
Job well done
We have read good articles, but the essay "To Protect Your Crown, Hold Fast, But Hold Fast to What?" [Nov. 30, 1999] is by far the best article I have seen written by Norm Edwards. The essay is excellent. Thank you, Norm, for a job well done. We appreciate the effort you put in to serving the members in your area. You told it like it is, friend.
Sam and Faye Stamper
Via the Internet
Mr. Armstrong's impact
In response to Wayne Cole's message in the July 30 issue ["Do You Have Real or Imagined Heroes?," page 3]:
Was Herbert Armstrong one "favored by the [true God]"?
Do "all [heroes] eventually fall from their lofty pedestals"?
Note that several significant heroes in the Bible have no specific sins mentioned: Enoch, Joseph, Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist. Yes, they sinned, but their reputations are unsullied. David sinned greatly. But he did not excuse, ignore or cover up his sins when all was said and done.
In general, Mr. Cole's was a decent message. In some specifics I must disagree.
Merely having a great impact on us, or climbing up steep slopes (of whatever real or metaphorical nature), does not make one a true hero. Alexander the Great has heroism and greatness attached to his name. His impact carried on beyond the time of Jesus (from more than three centuries before Christ); yea, to our time. Yet Alexander was a mass murderer, a megalomaniac (requiring his subjects to recognize him as a god) and a bisexual.
Is such really a hero before God?
Part of Wayne's message dealt with the above. But I believe he overemphasized certain things and understated others. We all tend to do this.
Mr. Cole stated he never heard Mr. Armstrong equate himself with the original apostles. I have no reason to doubt his personal testimony.
Mr. Cole was not among us during the last seven years of Mr. Armstrong's regime. Consult Mr. Armstrong's 1985 book Mystery of the Ages (paperback edition published by the Philadelphia Church of God) to see that Mr. Armstrong equated his writings and understanding with the Bible, Moses and Paul (see pages xii, xiii, 5, 12, 30). He also claimed to be the Elijah to come (pages 9, 10, 24, 157, 251, 267, 289-291).
So, when all was said and done, Mr. Armstrong claimed to be even greater than the original apostles. His claim to the Elijah-to-come prophecy (Malachi 4:5-6) is a claim to a greater status than that of original apostleship.
The original 12 apostles, as well as the later apostle Paul, were not specifically prophesied in the Old Testament in such lofty position.
"People generally recognize that heroes do not make themselves heroes," wrote Mr. Cole.
To a degree I submit that Mr. Armstrong made himself out to be more heroic than he was. He claimed inspiration from God for The U.S. & Britain in Prophecy, for one prime example. The inspiration was from J.H. Allen's book Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright. J.H. Allen was a man!
Mystery of the Ages is a book with many significant errors, in spite of Mr. Armstrong's claims of general inspiration and greatness of instruction therein. Generally, during the last several years of his life, Mr. Armstrong claimed to be receiving more and more inspired understanding (including the error-prone Mystery of the Ages).
It is not an all-or-nothing thing (i.e., that our work in the past was either of God or of men). To the extent that converted people were involved with spiritual attitudes, God no doubt was involved by His Spirit (this seems axiomatic).
When the actions or attitudes were not godly, God was not involved. On those occasions it was of men. Albeit, even then, remember Balaam and his donkey were both inspired by God at times, in spite of both being completely unconverted.
El Cerrito, Calif.
When will we ever learn?
Why do we need the many corporate entities? Isn't it because we have lost sight of Jesus Christ, who is the head of His church? If every one of us would only look and look only for Jesus Christ and where He is leading His little flock, we would find it. We will never find it by starting our own corporate church, hoping that God will bless us for doing it.
Jesus did build His church, and it did not die, but we will if we don't look for it.
I believe God has always worked through one man in each era. Unless the Lord shall build the house, the weary builders toil in vain. Why can't we learn from the Bible?
I know Herbert W. Armstrong wasn't perfect, but neither were any of the men mentioned in the Bible except one. He wasn't killed by some wild beast but by humans created in the likeness of God. Now even we who were baptized into Jesus Christ and some even ordained into the ministry fall into the trap of speaking out against him whom God is using to lead His church, just like Aaron and Miriam spoke against their brother Moses. Wasn't God displeased with them?
It behooves us to be careful of our own attitude. We should be looking for that man who is first of all pleasing God by doing what Christ commanded His apostles to do in Matthew 28:18-20: "teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you."
If you can find one man who is doing that, then you have found where God's church is. There will no doubt be other ministers who are also doing the same under the direction of that one man whom God is using in this end time.
John F. Andreas
Worship the Son
Well done! Beginning on page 3 of the July 30 issue, you printed an insightful piece by Paul Morris titled "Some Christians Hear the Wrong Voice." Bravo!
Many in the collective Churches of God are indeed hearing the wrong voice. Their preachers lull them into a false sense of security.
Numerous COG folks have been taught to fear defilement by Protestantism. Consequently they feel they must distance themselves from any emphasis on and outward show of "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."
Protestantism is a dirty word in our congregations. Many brethren would much rather talk about a vague and unspecific "God" who somehow rules some of us in some fashion, more or less, to one degree or another, instead of Christ.
Brethren give lip service to Jesus because they believe the Father will not listen unless they tag Jesus' name on the end of their prayers. But they walk a defective tightrope. They seem to believe that merely uttering the name of Christ on occasion is sufficient for the prayer "formula" to work. They seem to believe that giving Jesus honorable mention is pleasing to the Father.
For the ordinary lay member this idea is dangerous, but for preachers who neglect to preach Christ it is a slippery slope. Besides fooling themselves and their audiences, in effect they are trying to fool the Father as well!
For this day and age the Father has tied both salvation and eternal life irrevocably to Jesus Christ of Nazareth. You cannot have salvation or the Father without Jesus.
"Christians" who distance themselves from Jesus heap scorn upon His head and will have to answer for it. Those who truly love the Son and worship Him by extension also love and worship the Father. Those who reject the Son reject the Father.
This is not a complex issue. "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life" (1 John 5:12). No eternal life exists apart from the Son, and you must receive Christ to gain eternal life.
Friends, one day you will arrive at the end of your life. What you have believed and accepted all these years will make no difference whatsoever to the Father if you have thoughtlessly, lazily or deliberately rejected His Son, Jesus Christ. You will lose everything.
F. Paul Haney
Christ Fellowship Ministries
Keep up the good work. I appreciate you all.
What will Jesus find?
Luke 18:8 has been on my mind lately. Will Christ find faith on the earth when He comes? Well, will He?
He must have had some doubts to have said that. That's not saying much for us, is it? But we must wake up and listen to God's ministers and not let what we hear go in one ear and out the other.
Who are God's ministers? That's what we need to find out and then stick with them.
Look for those who teach the truth and the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). I don't think there is just one church anymore, but some are too judgmental and think they are the only church.
We have all been through a lot of trauma, but now is the time to unite! We should let bygones be bygones. Forget the little wrongs; we're not going to get into God's Kingdom without doing that.
If we think things can't get any worse, think again. It may be later than we think. We need to draw close to God so He can help us through.
Love is not a dirty word. We are supposed to be like Christ, and greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Some of us may have to do just that.
A cassette tape by the Myers Brothers called Together Again should be a must for your music library. It is $11.50 from Myers Music, 3878 Hile Rd., Stow, Ohio 44224.
Name and location withheld
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